Russians returned to the ballot boxes last Sunday after having experienced one of the most scandalous elections in the country’s history last December. This was due to the thousands of fraud accusations that tainted the process. These new elections sparked renewed doubts and raised the need to debate the fact that countries must really strive to give their citizens fair electoral systems that stop the loss of supporters in the base of democracy: voting.
The presidential elections in Russia, where Vladimir Putin won with over 60% of the votes, did not convince locals or foreigners. The opposition, as well as civil society organizations, international observers, and citizens, agreed that the elections were not transparent.
The NGO Golos, defender of the right to suffrage and the transparency of the electoral process, denounced more than 3500 irregularities. This is the case with at least 176 fraudulent uses of voting coupons, that is, the documents that allow people who are not registered in their district’s electoral college the right to vote. The alteration of the operation scheme in poll locations was also spotted, as well as numerous cases of carousel fraud, which consists in moving people in buses around different electoral colleges in order for them to vote repeatedly for the same party.
Some of these deeds are registered on camera because the ruling party installed more than 200,000 webcams at polling stations in order to stop protests and gain credibility. The outcome was that illegal ballot stuffing, bribes to vote multiple times, and other unlawful activities that fixed the process were detected.
The European Union agreed with the opinion of the missions from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe about there being significant irregularities. “The process deteriorated at the moment of scrutiny and evolved negatively in one-third of the polling stations due to irregularities in the procedure,” the organization declared.
This event, and its yet unknown social consequences, brings up the question: why, if Russia has the legal basis to implement e-voting since 2010 and stop the vices of manual voting from tainting a country’s credibility—for that is what elections deemed rigged do—, does it insist on staying behind and not updating its electoral system?
Just like other countries, this European giant urgently needs to take some action and give its citizens a system that eradicates fraud from the electoral system. A law that authorizes electronic voting is currently in force, the need is evident; now it’s only a matter of authorities assuming the commitment to defend Democracy, allowing transparent elections through the use of electoral technology.